“Indoorsman” expert meets quarantine with inspirational humor

Pastor, expert “indoorsman” and award-winning author John Driver provides some comic relief during this time of social distancing and staying indoors.

Co-author of the bestselling book Vertical Marriage, as well as the autobiography of the inspiring Purdue superfan Tyler Trent, Driver adds his uplifting voice to the conversation surrounding COVID-19 with his comedic and faith-based survival guide for the “indoorsman.”

The Ultimate Guide For The Avid Indoorsman: Life is Better in Here teaches readers how to fully embrace the indoor lifestyle. This hilarious handbook provides tips and tricks to help you thrive in your comfy, climate-controlled world. Learn the finer art of setting up a perfect home theater, cleaning with minimal effort, developing indoor hobbies, etc. – and take the complimentary online Indooreagram Quiz.

Driver is putting something into the hands of people trying to survive the extended indoor lifestyle that will brighten their mood amid all the chaos. He knows the power of a good book – and laugh – can soothe the soul and calm the spirit. At a time when fear surrounds us, Driver hopes to remind us all we have to be grateful for within four walls.

#BooksForwardHelpline: Helping you learn how to download ebooks and audiobooks, and connecting you to your next great read

With libraries and many bookstores closing physical locations for quarantine and Amazon suspending nonessential shipments, book lovers who prefer physical copies are faced with a dilemma: How will you get your hands on your next great read? We understand not everyone is familiar with how to access ebooks and audiobooks, and figuring this out can be daunting if you’re self-isolating due to COVID-19.

Books Forward has organized a free helpline to connect readers with the books they need. Call us at (615) 212-8549 between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. CT, or browse our resources below.

We can help you:

1. Learn how to download ebooks and audiobooks

Read our helpful guide, and call us if you have any questions. We can walk you step-by-step through the process of downloading digital and audiobooks so you can easily begin reading or listening to a new book at the touch of a button.

2. Troubleshoot downloads to your preferred e-reader, iPad, computer or phone

Providers offer online help desks to assist you through common issues you may run into:

And call us if you still need help figuring out the best way to download reading material, regardless of your reading device.

3. Offer reading recommendations to help you find a new book you’ll love

Need something new to read and not sure where to start? You can join our #BooksForward Reading Challenge, where we are reading, sharing and discussing one new book each week (a great way to feel more connected right now!). And check out our curated reading list, where we’ve compiled some of our favorite books that are particularly helpful and relevant for readers who are stuck at home during this time. Or call us! We have tons of great recommendations for you based on your reading preferences!

4. Discover how to support indie bookstores and libraries from home

You may be able to pick up a physical book curbside at your local bookstore or library. But you can still engage with and support your favorite independent bookstore and local library, even when their doors are closed. We’ll teach you how to order ebooks from bookstores and use your library’s app to download books.

Ready to get reading? Call our Books Forward helpline at (615) 212-8549 if you have any additional questions, and let us help you get connected to your next great book without leaving home!

Also check out these resources and articles from our family of authors and experts in response to coronavirus: 

May you have happy and healthy reading.

New to digital and audiobook downloads? Here’s what you need to know. 

You’re homebound due to COVID-19, your local library and bookstore are closed, and you’ve just finished the last book on your shelf. What’s a reader to do? With popular online retailers like Amazon suspending nonessential shipments such as physical book deliveries (although we would argue that good literature is essential in times of stress or crisis), the fact is that digital and audiobooks are now your best, most easily accessible reading option.  

But what if you’re new and unfamiliar to the world of literary downloads? Not to worry: purchasing digital and audiobooks is easier than ever, and we’re here to walk you through it. 

There are multiple sites and apps where you can easily purchase ebooks and audiobooks. The most popular are Kobo, Amazon Kindle, My Must Reads, Libro.FM, Scribd and Audible

We urge you to support your local bookstores even while their doors are closed for coronavirus, by purchasing digital ebooks from them directly using Kobo and My Must Reads, and you can purchase audiobooks from them via Libro.FM. A few clicks, and boom! You’ve got a new book downloaded immediately to your phone, tablet, computer or reading device, and you’re benefiting your local bookseller. Indiebound also offers helpful info on each service.

Kobo enables you to purchase ebooks directly through indie bookstores, and BookRiot has super helpful step-by-step instructions on how to create an account and start downloading books from your preferred store. (Note that Kobo is not compatible with Kindle readers, because they have partnered with indie bookstores to sell their own ereader.) 

My Must Reads has a list of indie bookstores right on its homepage, giving easy access to purchase ebooks directly from the store.  

Libro.FM is a monthly subscription service for audiobooks, and right now they’re offering all new members two audiobook downloads for the price of one ($14.99) with 100% of your payment going to a local bookstore of your choice. Helpful tip: You have to purchase books on Libro’s website and then it goes to your app.

While each site has a slightly different approach, the basic steps are: 

  1. Register for an account or subscription with your preferred site. 
  2. If you don’t have an ereader, download your preferred site’s app to your computer, tablet or phone. You can find their app in the App Store of your device.
  3. Once you’ve created an account and are perusing the site, select the books and audiobooks you would like to purchase and download. You should be able to download them, or add them to your cart, with a single click.
  4. Pay for your selected downloads (if you purchased a subscription, you may skip this step, as you will have access to multiple or even unlimited downloads). 
  5. Start reading and/or listening to your next great book! 

Be sure to also check out our Books Forward Helpline (booksforward.com/helpline) for reading recommendations and other helpful resources related to social distancing and reading from home.

Now let’s take a closer look at what you may see when using these apps to download books:

 

#BooksForward reading challenge celebrates how books provide connection, even with social distancing

Reading is one of the most powerful tools for connection and comfort. Let’s make meaningful virtual connections and share our love for literature during this isolating time.

Before settling in for another Netflix binge or anxiety-inducing scroll through your newsfeed, consider that self-quarantine can be an opportunity to catch up on the books you’ve missed. Good reads simultaneously relax and stimulate our brains, entertain us and connect us through shared recommendations, and take us to far away places. In our #BooksForward Reading Challenge , we invite you to read, discuss, and share new books with us and other readers. It’s the perfect way to connect, even when practicing social distancing. Choose books (any books!!) that pertain to the suggested themes, then join us on social media to share and discuss!

Each week, Books Forward will be giving away ebooks to our reader friends. Enter by using the #BooksForward hashtag on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with your reading choices and updates. One reader who completes the challenge will win a $100 gift card to your indie bookstore of choice.

If you’re new to ebooks and audiobooks, and need some help learning how to download reading material, visit booksforward.com/helpline for tips and more book recommendations. We’ll teach you how to use your library’s app and still order books in a way that supports independent bookstores, along with other ebook and audiobook app information.

Need some inspiration on what to read? Below are some potential themes We’ve got some recommendations for you from our incredible roster of Books Forward authors, and head over to our Books Forward Instagram (instagram.com/booksforwardpr) to discuss more!

A how-to book that teaches you something you’ve wanted to learn
Ever wanted to learn next-level origami, the secrets of time-management gurus or how to build that studio space you’ve been dreaming about? Now is your chance to learn something new!

  1. Get inspired and create your perfect work-from-home space with Donald M. Rattner’s My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation.
  2. Embrace the indoor lifestyle with this hilarious handbook full of tips and tricks to help you thrive at home in self-quarantine with John Driver’s The Ultimate Guide for the Avid Indoorsman: Life is Better in Here, and be sure to take the accompanying Indooreagram Quiz!
  3. Learn how to cook restaurant-worthy meals from your stockpiled staples using this tongue-in-cheek cookbook based on AMC’s hit TV series, The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide by Lauren Wilson.

A book set in a futuristic society
Literature can sometimes predict the future. To be well-read is to be prepared.

  1. Ponder author Pat Mckee’s question of if artificial intelligence can learn morality in his exciting new legal techno-thriller Ariel’s Island.
  2. Examine the dangers of data mining and the dark side of surveillance in Michael C. Bland’s thrilling sci-fi title The Price of Safety, an eerie depiction of the not-too-far future that reveals humanity’s dependence on both technology and family.
  3. Follow Lieutenant Sandy Attiyeh as she returns from being either a celebrated hero or war criminal, depending on who you ask in Sayde Scarlett’s near-future sci-fi read Clouds & Earth

A book from a genre you don’t typically read
Don’t remember the last time you’ve picked up a memoir, high fantasy or horror novel? Time to give a new or unfamiliar genre a test drive. 

  1. Meet the secret society of high-end escorts and the men who hire them in Jami Rodman’s delicious tell-all memoir, The Las Vegas Madam: The Escorts, the Clients, the Truth.
  2. Get swept away by a YA fantasy series about a teen girl who stumbles into a school for those who possess powerful magic — and who are threatened by a dark force — in D.E. Night’s The Crowns of Croswald.
  3. Get sucked into this vivid first-person narrative as Special Operations Joint Terminal Attack Controller Wes J. Bryant and his commanding general Dana J.H. Pittard give fascinating and detailed accounts of America’s fight against ISIS in Hunting the Caliphate.

A book about an interesting time in history
Whether it’s a romance novel set during France’s Reign of Terror, the biography that inspired the musical Hamilton or a nonfiction profile of America’s first serial killer during the Chicago World’s Fair, let’s get historical. 

  1. Get a shudder-inducing (and surprisingly relevant) look at how our ancestors bathed, how often they washed their clothes, what they understood cleanliness to be, and why our hygienic habits have changed so dramatically over time in professor Peter Ward’s  The Clean Body: A Modern History.
  2. Discover how the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference, Perry Wallace, transformed the game — as well as civil rights and race relations in America — in the New York Times bestselling nonfiction Strong Inside.
  3. Take a deep dive into WWII history with bestselling author Samuel Marquis’ gripping, accurate historical fiction books, including his newest release Soldiers of Freedom.

A book that’s fun for the whole family
Children’s and middle grade books can be especially poignant, hilarious and fun. Find a book you’d want to share with the fam!

  1. Inspire young minds to build their own castles and change the damsel in distress narrative to one of self-reliance (with the power of science behind it) in Rachel Kowert’s Pragmatic Princess.
  2. Unravel mysteries and crack secret codes with two tween girls who start their own sleuthing business in Kristen Kittscher’s delightfully clever and funny middle grade duo, The Wig in the Window and The Tiara on Terrace.
  3. Learn what school kids have to say about their experiences living in a big city in Katie Burke’s family-focused Urban Playground, which includes conversation-starting questions to ask your own kids like “If you could have one lucky weekend with a parent, what would you want to do together?” or “If you made your own salad, what would you put in it?”⁣⁣

A book that’s been recommended to you
Remember that book your best friend, co-worker or great aunt wouldn’t stop talking about? Time to see what the buzz is about! May we also suggest:

  1. Discover the shockingly true story of a young woman who must fight for her independence and her dreams after discovering her family secretly covered up her mother’s death in Barbara Donsky’s poignant memoir, Veronica’s Grave: A Daughter’s Memoir.
  2. Dive into Tori Eldridge’s The Ninja Daughter, a Kill Bill meets The Joy Luck Club action-packed thriller about a woman who must fight the Los Angeles Ukrainian mob, sex traffickers and her own family.
  3. Giggle your way through Suzanne Park’s The Perfect Escape, as a budding teen romance begins in a zombie-themed escape room. The delightful #ownvoices YA rom-com is also a thoughtful exploration of diversity and classism.

A book about self-improvement, health and/or wellness
Keeping ourselves and our communities healthy is at the top of everyone’s minds. Books can help us learn something new about ourselves, our mental health, our emotional well-being, our fitness and how to improve our health.

  1. Be kind to your neighbors and communities, especially in times such as these. Donna Cameron inspires and shows us the impact kindness can have in her award-winning A Year of Living Kindly.
  2. Take some spare time you have at home in the coming weeks to practice self-care and break unhealthy work addiction habits, with Bryan Robinson’s #CHILL.
  3. Prepare for extra “togetherness” with David and Julie Bulitt’s The Five Core Conversations for Couples. The married couple of 33 years (a divorce and family lawyer, and a family therapist), offer a unique expertise on how to keep family relationships healthy, especially through times of uncertainty.

A book that’s been adapted for film or TV
Check out a book that’s been made into a movie. Then grab some popcorn and watch how the big screen adaptation lives up to its literary roots! 

  1. Fragments features an all-star cast of celebs like Forest Whitaker and Dakota Fanning — but did you know it was adapted from Roy Freirich’s first novel, Winged Creatures? We wonder if his most recent psychological thriller that unravels a small town stricken by mass insomnia, Deprivation, might be seeing Hollywood stars as well?
  2. Mark Wahlberg is set to bring Eric Maikranz’s The Reincarnationist Papers to life in Paramount’s upcoming Infinite. You’ll get a glimpse of the Cognomina — a secret society of people who possess total recall of their past lives, leading to near immortality.
  3. While you’ll have to wait a bit to see the TV version, prepare for the Wreckage of two seemingly brave plane crash survivors who happen to be keeping the true story a secret, written by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Emily Bleeker.

And if you’re a fast and eager reader, may we offer these additional themes for inspiration:

  • A bestseller you’ve been meaning to read. What chart-topper has been sitting on your to-read list? Time to dive in!
  • A book you loved when you were younger. Dust off one of your favorite books from when you were a kid, teen or younger adult. How does it read now?
  • A book that is a guilty pleasure. We all have them: those books that you know won’t impress your “literary” friends, but that you can’t. Stop. READING. C’mon, let’s dish.
  • A book you started but never finished. Maybe you got busy. Maybe your reading list got too long. Maybe Netflix released the next season of Stranger Things. Whatever the reason, it’s time for a second crack at an unfinished read.

We can’t wait to hear what you pick to read!

Working from home new to you? 7 career writers show how to do it best.

Professional writers and published authors are experts at the work-from-home game; they have spent weeks, months and even years at their home computers in pursuit of their chosen profession. Their dedication results in finished manuscripts and published books, so they’re a great resource for those new to working remotely.

Maybe your boss has closed the office doors for COVID-19, and now you’re home in front of your laptop, still in your PJ’s, ready (or not) to embrace work-from-home life. Your morning commute now consists of the walk from your bed to your computer, and there’s no need for office attire (out of the video conference’s camera view, anyway). That part sounds pretty nice—right?

The truth is that working from home is like being an author: it sounds almost universally appealing in theory, but in practice it’s a lot more challenging than most people realize. Now unsupervised, those little social media breaks, furtive Netflix episodes and other distractions can really pile up. Keeping a consistent schedule may seem easy at first, but over time your discipline starts to slide and you become less organized. Perhaps most surprisingly, it can be lonely. You may not miss your coworkers, but as the days go on, that absent human interaction might make you go a little stir crazy. 

And if your kids are home as well due to school closures, well: that’s a whole different ball game. 

Here are some helpful tips from career writers on successfully working from home: 

  1. Determine your strengths and weaknesses. 

“I would suggest that people new to working from home figure out their strengths and weaknesses—strengths so that you can lean into them, and weaknesses so you can try to rein yourself in. I have to be on social media for #authorlife, but it’s hard to know when to stop. So I use an app to keep myself off social media when I need to be focused. I also use noise-cancelling headphones and a soundtrack that I put together for each book. My strength is that I can get a lot done when I’m focused, but I do have to make sure I am scheduled for it, or the day quickly falls away. Oh, and I try to block off days from meetings and calls so that I have some days dedicated to whatever nearest deadline I have.” Lori Rader Day, Edgar Award-nominated and Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of multiple thrillers, including most recently The Lucky One

  1. Schedule out your breaks. 

“The biggest advantage for me when I work from home is the ability to get started earlier in the day. I find that I’m most creative in the morning, but typically mornings are spent getting myself ready for work and the kids ready for school, then sitting in traffic for 45 minutes. So, when I have the opportunity to work from home I love waking up early and sitting down to write. Everything I accomplish before 10 a.m. seems like gravy. Given all the distractions at home, I try to just acknowledge them rather than fight them. I’ll schedule time to look at my phone, do the laundry, clean my closet, go for a walk, or just take a snack break. Having that time set aside helps keep me from taking a million mini-breaks.” Andrew Maraniss, New York Times bestselling author of Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South

  1. Create an inspiring designated workspace, and find a comfortable position.

“A great technique for enhancing creativity at home is to bring elements of Nature into your workspace, whether by means of outdoor views, desk plants, scents, abundant daylight, colors, decorative motifs, or artwork. Best of all, these same environmental cues also reduce stress—a welcome salve for these trying times. Try writing while reclining rather than sitting. Research shows that the part of our brain responsible for raising alertness deactivates when we assume this posture, which in turn makes us more relaxed and open to taking creative risks. It certainly seems to have worked for people like Michael Chabon, Truman Capote, and Virginia Woolf! If you’re feeling a bit cooped up, try looking at pictures and objects from the past, like personal memorabilia and souvenirs from trips taken. Besides mentally releasing you from your physical confines, psychologists say it can also boost idea output by putting you in a more abstract, big-picture state of mind.” Donald M. Rattner, My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation 

  1. Stay in contact with others—but also set some boundaries. 

“Working from home can be isolating, so it’s important to reach out to others as part of your work day (or after your work day for fun!). As humans we need connection with other people. You can connect with others even while at home through phone, email, video chat, private messaging, texting…there are so many options. I’ve found that when I’m working long, hard hours alone that video chat, even just a five minute call, feels the most connected to me because I see the other person’s face as well as hear their voice. Skype, WhatsApp, and even Facebook Messenger are great, easy-to-use video chat options…I’ve also found that in working from home it’s important to have boundaries. Boundaries for other people, to let them know when you are working and don’t want to be disturbed. And boundaries for yourself, to make sure that you don’t work yourself too hard (I’ve been known to still be editing or writing at 10pm), or too little (social media is a huge distraction, especially when we need to be on it as authors). I think it’s also important to build in little pockets of relaxation, play, and reward.” Cheryl Rainfield, author of Scars, the No. 1 American Library Association’s “Top 10 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers”

  1. Use the tools available to you to increase your productivity and focus.

“Whether you are quarantined because you have come in contact with someone who was exposed to the coronavirus, or you are limiting social contact voluntarily, turn the reduced level of activity into a positive for your work-in-progress. Set clear identifiable goals such as writing to plot point X or finishing chapter Y or set specific word count goals, and resist the temptation to look at the news until you have finished. Use an app such as Freedom or even write longhand to stay off the internet and keep yourself from constantly checking updates. Rely on social media to stay connected with other writers, or start a private email chain between writers you know. Share daily progress, talk over the scary current reality, and cheer each other on. Despite the scary time we are living in, you may find this an especially productive time.” Jenny Milchman, USA Today bestselling author of Cover of Snow and forthcoming The Second Mother

  1. Put together a playlist that helps you focus, and only listen when you work. 

When I write from home, I curl up in an overstuffed reading chair with my laptop. Though those writing sessions are not easy for me, I get through them by playing classical music, which I don’t listen to at any other time, but which works well for my writing because it seems to focus my brain on the writing task.” Katie Burke, author of the family-focused conversation starter Urban Playground

  1. Remember to enjoy your life regardless of circumstances.

Take advantage of this restrictive time to clear clutter out of your basement, pull weeds in the garden, or get caught up on projects you’ve neglected for a while. It helps to have water-tight boundaries so you can focus on your job. Treat your work space as if it’s miles away. If possible, only go there to work. Keep it at arm’s-length after hours. Don’t allow intrusions to cause you to lose your focus or procrastinate: doing laundry, vacuuming, or organizing your spice rack. When not working enjoy other areas of your home: gardening, watching a good movie, reading a book, or cooking a fun meal. And lead as much of a full social life as possible such as having non-symptomatic friends over for dinner. Be creative and don’t let your circumstances dwarf your tranquility, happiness, or productivity. Your greatest power is your perspective. It can victimize you or empower you when you look for the upside in a downside situation and figure out what you can control and what you can’t and accept the things you can’t. That’s survival of the fittest.” Bryan Robinson, author of #CHILL and more than 40 other nonfiction books and novels

 

The library is your friend, even if you can’t get to it

So you’re stuck at home, either because you aren’t feeling well or because you’re doing social distancing until the coronavirus hopefully goes away for good. For me, the library is my safe space – I go there when I’m stressed out or just need to escape. And it can still be that for you, even while you’re homebound!

Take advantage of all the other amazing opportunities the library offers online! Most libraries have either the Libby by OverDrive or the original OverDrive app, and others use Hoopla, cloudLibrary or RBDigital – all of them make it easy to download ebooks and audiobooks to your heart’s content.  For FREE! 

Here’s a step by step guide for those readers new to the online resources libraries offer:

  • First things first, if you don’t already have a library card, standard practice is to go into the library with a piece of mail that has your name and current address on it. But give your local library a call to see if they’re letting people sign up online during this unique time.
  • Download your preferred app from your phone’s app store – Libby by OverDrive is the most common option, but Hoopla and RBDigital are similar.
  • To find sign in information, go to your library’s website, and see if you have a personal account. You’ll have to use your library card number (found on your card itself) to sign in, and most libraries assign a password to you – there should be a section that walks you through the steps. But if you have trouble, just call and they can help!
  • We’re almost to the really fun part! When you have your library card number and password, open the Libby or Overdrive app on your phone, and enter your library card number and password.
  • Behold all the options open to you! You’ll see the library’s suggestions, but there’s also a search bar at the top where you can check and see if a book you want is available.
  • Audiobooks have a small headphone icon below the cover graphic to designate them from ebooks.
  • If a book is not currently available, instead of “borrow,” it will say “place hold.” Once you place your hold, you’ll get an estimate of how soon the book will be checked out to you – it’s usually pretty accurate! 
  • When you check out a book, it will go to your “shelf,” which can be found at the bottom right of your home screen. This will show you the loans you currently have, and all the books you put on hold.
  • Audiobooks open within the app, and most ebooks can be read within the app or on your preferred e-reader.
  • And you can check out multiple books and audiobooks at a time, because who doesn’t love options?
  • If you like to listen at a faster speed than the narrator speaks, there is an option at the top of your audiobook to speed things up. Just tap until you find the speed you prefer.
  • You can also increase the size on an ebook’s font with reading settings, and change the page color to best suit your preference!
  • Most libraries also make it easy to put books on hold through their website, and then you’ll get an email when it’s available for pick up. Some even offer drive-thru windows – all of these steps will help limit physical contact if you prefer a physical book!

Let’s take a closer look at how to use Libby!

 

Need some suggestions or have more questions on how all of this works? Visit the Books Forward Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/booksforwardpr/) for video explanations on our stories, and check in with us – we’re more than happy to help! And if YOU have more tips to share, please comment here or on our Instagram post. Book friends gotta stick together!

Our Books Forward team cannot stress enough how crucial libraries are to our society. On top of providing communities with books and other media we love to consume, they offer many other trustworthy, reliable and informative resources, including on the coronavirus. Check out this handy guide put together by the Eastern Virginia Medical School Library to help us all understand the outbreak.